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ADHD in Adults with Dr Carol Perlman

May 08, 202443 min read

“Would you believe that there are a lot of gifts that go along with ADHD? The ADHD brain can be super creative, expansive. It can be really great for problem solving and so we want to capitalize on that.” - Dr Carol Perlman

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ADHD in Adults with Dr Carol Perlman

Welcome to Imperfection in Progress, a podcast for ambitious women who are people-pleasers, perfectionists, or procrastinators. Want to feel less stress and more joy in your life? Then this is for you. I’m your host Dawn Calvinisti.

It’s my privilege to have Dr. Carol Perlman on the podcast. Dr Perlman is a Licensed Psychologist and habit coach specializing in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy with nearly 25 years of experience in the field of psychology. She has worked at top academic medical centers in Boston, Massachusetts and has maintained a consulting practice since 2005. Dr. Perlman has published a dozen articles and presented over 20 papers at national conferences. She is the co-author of a series of Cognitive Behavioral treatment books for adults with ADHD, Mastering Your Adult ADHD – Therapist Guide and Client Workbook. In 2014 she founded a health habit coaching business, Healthy4LifebyCarolPerlman, and teaches others HOW to create daily habits for a healthy lifestyle. Dr. Perlman utilizes her many years of experience as a Cognitive Behavioral Therapist to help clients improve their time management skills and increase productivity to achieve greater work -life balance. She is the host of the Healthy Habits 4 Life podcast.

You can learn more about Dr Perlman by visiting her website www.carolperlman.com

We discuss the importance of recognizing and understanding ADHD symptoms in adults and the challenges faced by individuals with ADHD in managing everyday details and organizing tasks. Dr Perlman shares the effectiveness of habits in reducing decision fatigue and enhancing productivity. She offers so many valuable resources you can take advantage of.

Here’s our conversation.

How to manage adult ADHD

Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Dawn Calvinisti: I'm so glad that you are here to listen today to an episode where we are really diving in a little bit more to ADHD. You know that this month is our focus on ADHD and I love when we can have an expert in who can just open it up a little bit more for us. Today we have Dr. Carol Perlman on the show and you know what, if there's anything that I could say here is it really excites me to get to know more and maybe it's a little selfish listeners, but when I get excited about a topic, then I just say, Hey, you know what? I want to know more. So I'm going to find the people I want to learn from. And so you get to benefit, but I get to benefit too. So thank you for being here, Dr. Pearlman. I so appreciate that you are spending some time with us.

[00:00:43] Dr Carol Perlman: Oh, it's my pleasure. I'm looking forward to this.

[00:00:46] Dawn Calvinisti: Tell us a little bit about why is this the area that you have a level of skill and connection to and what is it about it that draws you to it?

[00:00:54] Dr Carol Perlman: Yeah, good question. So, you, you may have heard some of this story. So many years ago, I can't believe it goes back over 20 years now. I was working in a big academic medical setting and I was invited to work on a project. I was part of what's called the cognitive behavioral therapy program. So for people who may not be familiar with that term, cognitive behavioral therapy is a program, an approach to treatment that's very much skills based. So different from other approaches that had been around, back in the 1950s, 60s, 70s, that were called more psychodynamic and they involved, let's go back and analyze your childhood in order to understand current challenges today. That was very helpful and for some people that continues to be very helpful.

But a new wave of treatment came about called CBT, where we really focus on patterns that are playing out today and teach skills for creating change by learning more about the situation that you're in, the thoughts that you're having, the feelings that you're having, your behavioral responses, and how all of those work together to create a different outcome.

So back in gosh, it was early 2000s, I was working in the CBT program and I was really just almost accidentally invited to work on a project to help adults with ADHD. At the time, there were CBT programs for many other kinds of problems, anxiety and depression, but there really wasn't a lot out there for adults.

There was a great need in the field. And so I was honored to be invited to work on a project where we drew upon what we knew worked in other areas and applied it to adults with ADHD. We did several big research studies to make sure that it worked. We published our treatment program and I've been using it ever since in my private practice with my own clients.

So like I said, it's been a good 25 years. I've sat with hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of individuals with ADHD to teach them skills for navigating day to day life better. And what occurred to me over the years is that it's not just adults with ADHD who are struggling in this area. It is everybody.

And it's only gotten worse. As the years go on, there's so many more distractions. We have so many more digital environments that we're managing. People working from home, this hybrid work model. There's just so much more going on. Everybody, it seems, is struggling more with distractibility, procrastination and thoughts, unhelpful thoughts that get in the way. And the reason why I love this work is because there's so much promise out there that it can be really debilitating when you struggle in these areas. It can be extremely debilitating. It can really damage self esteem and self worth. People feel like they have this secret, like people don't know how much I struggle to get things done.

And maybe at the end of the day, they get it all done. But the journey to get there is really, Really challenging. And I know I can help. And I know that we, we know a lot more about ADHD now, especially in adults, and that there are skills and strategies and systems and so many ways that you can intervene to make things better.

And that's what I love about the work is really helping people make their life better.

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[00:04:03] Dawn Calvinisti: I love that you have figured this out over time. And it's funny, I was talking with my daughter the other day and she's saying, but I think I have ADHD because of this and this and this. And she names some things and I, I laughed and I said, you know what? That's almost normal. Like I struggle with a lot of that too.

And I wouldn't say I have ADHD. But you're right, there's a lot of distractions, there's a lot of things asking for our time and attention at the same time. And I think even if you don't have ADHD, I think a lot of these techniques and tools are really useful for all of us. But the one thing I do want to know is, like, how do we actually determine, like, is this ADHD, or is this just, life?

Okay,

[00:04:44] Dr Carol Perlman: Right. So many people ask that question. They say just like your daughter did, like sort of, half under their breath, like, Oh, I think I have ADHD. And how do you really know? And so there's good news and there's bad news. Bad news is that it's not an easy answer. It's not like we can do a blood test and say, Oh, yes, you're positive for adult ADHD or, ADHD in childhood, it's not that simple.

So the process of getting truly diagnosed is really a complex one that takes many, many hours. We call it a neuropsychological evaluation, where you work with a trained professional and they are going to look at a couple of different. different things. So one is to look at childhood and understand were there any hints of this back then?

And I'm going to really focus on adults. I don't work with kids. I work exclusively with adults. So I'll focus on adults for today. But even for adults, for a true diagnosis, they want to know were there signs of this early on and to To determine that, we interview parents. Sometimes we get reports from teachers.

We might pull out old report cards for those of us who have saved them to see what was going on back then. Were there hints of this? And then we'll use a combination of questionnaires and what we call clinical interviews. So to ask about difficulties that are going on today, to understand, professionally, would we call that a clinically significant indicator of the diagnosis?

So, there is a whole set of criteria that we use, but some of the things that we're looking for are symptoms of inattention or like, not paying attention to details, difficulty sustaining attention over a long period of time, not listening when someone's talking, like getting distracted and going off on another train of thought.

difficulty organizing tasks. You might think more classically of the hyperactivity the tapping of the knee, the squirming in a chair, losing things. So those are just some examples of some of the symptoms that we would ask about to see, do you meet the full criteria? But then there's another key question, and this gets back to what you and your daughter discussed, which is, Is the impairment clinically significant?

So of course, we're all going to have days where we're distracted, where we're procrastinating. We have a task, we don't want to do it. And we might say, Oh, I'm having an ADHD moment. But in order to truly be diagnosed, you really have to have evidence of clinically significant impairment in multiple areas of your life.

So it could be work. It could be home. It could be with friends and family. It could be at school if you're a kid. So we need to establish that to really state that it's, it's above and beyond. What the average person experiences here and here and there. And then there are some computer tests that are used to evaluate attention and inhibition.

And so a clinician will put all of this data together to make a determination of whether the diagnosis really explains the difficulty.

[00:07:33] Dawn Calvinisti: so when I hear about this from other women around me, and I feel like I'm hearing it more and more and more, my mind was, in the beginning, Isn't this a childhood thing? And, like, why would you get diagnosed now? And, like, what does it matter? And what do you do when you get a diagnosis? And, and all that because I just didn't understand.

And then as I heard from some of these women about the things that they recognize now that have been happening throughout their life, but how it's impacted and is still impacting their daily function. Then I understood the reasoning. But as you were doing this, and as you were, talking to hundreds of people that are, are looking at this in adulthood, what are some of the things that you saw?

That they needed help with, like, what are some of the areas maybe of their life where you could see a lot of impact?

[00:08:21] Dr Carol Perlman: Yeah, I want to back up for just one quick moment before we get to that, because there's a really interesting thing to know about adult ADHD that you were, this is where I thought you were going with that question. So when people come to me, and I have to say a lot of the people that I work with were never diagnosed as kids, people in their 40s, 50s, 60s, even 70s, they were not diagnosed as kids because it wasn't well recognized.

Then like it is now. So people fall into one of a couple categories. So they might be someone who was never diagnosed. And they just are getting the diagnosis now and they're just putting the pieces together and saying, Oh my gosh, this explains all the difficulties I had throughout my life. Now it all makes sense.

And it's like starting a new starting life, totally a new now understanding their challenges through a new lens. So that's some people. There are some people who Maybe, they had parents who were very on top of it, or they had a school that was really on top of it, and they got diagnosed. But even with a diagnosis, they really didn't get much treatment.

Maybe they tried some medications, but they never learned skills to compensate for it. And so, And then, so, and the other interesting, so that's the sad and frustrating part, I will say, that I see all the time is that there are people, many people who have struggled for years and years and years and never got the help that we now know is out there.

And what I say to that is there's nothing we can do, we can't go back in time, we can just move forward from here, and we can learn the skills now and work to make your future life better. But the interesting thing that I wanted to point out is that. Like you said, ADHD initially was thought of as a childhood disorder, and so it can play out in a couple different ways.

So there are some kids, let's talk nowadays, who are diagnosed in childhood and then they outgrow it, seemingly. They, they, they, their body and their brain develop and they seem to outgrow it and it doesn't present problems later in life. That's one category. Then there's another category of kids who experience symptoms as As a child, and then the symptoms persist and they continue to struggle and then it turns into adult ADHD, and then there are adults who say, you know what, I really never struggled with this as a kid, it's only been recently since I became a mom, or it's only, once I got to college that I started struggling.

And there's some debate because technically, that wouldn't meet the criteria for a full diagnosis. But actually what what often happens is that there were people in a child's life who were helping to compensate. So thinking about what most parents do, we oversee our kids, we provide structure, we remind them, your homework is due, and so the signs may have been there, but it just wasn't apparent because you had a parent who was helping to manage.

And then, as the child grows up and becomes more and more independent, And the parent steps into the background, now the troubles become more apparent because now the child slash young adult is trying to navigate on their own. And now all of a sudden they're saying, this is the first time I'm having trouble.

[00:11:14] Dawn Calvinisti: Okay, that's interesting that it can play out in that, those three ways. So when somebody is diagnosed, and I want to back into what you had said there, especially like kids, we often hear they're put on medications. And then you mentioned that they may not have been giving, given skill sets. So is this the same for adults?

Are we looking for potentially medications, but we need skill sets? Like, is it the same thing?

[00:11:39] Dr Carol Perlman: I believe this across the board, that if anyone is going to go on psychiatric medications, which can be lifesaving for so many people. I always think that it should go hand in hand with therapy and coaching and skill building that because medications can be great, they can take the edge off, they can dial down the intensity of symptoms.

So if you're at a 10, they can bring them down, maybe to a 3, 4, 5, but chances are they're not going to wipe out the symptoms. completely. And so you're still left with a little residue. And this is where skill building can come in and really take you the whole rest of the way home. So I always believe that if you are pursuing medications, it should go hand in hand with therapy or coaching.

So, yes, there are many people with adult ADHD who benefit from medications again. And I think there's a lot more that we can layer onto that with coaching and skills training, but. There are also people who are not a candidate for medication for various reasons, other medical problems, or, their body just doesn't agree with them.

So medications are off the table, and I don't think that that's, a hopeless situation, because there's still so much we can do with the skill building, and that's the work that I do. I don't prescribe, I have colleagues who prescribe, I don't do any of that. I'm here to do the skill building, so I can talk a lot about, okay, how do we go about that?

[00:12:57] Dawn Calvinisti: Okay, so let's talk a little bit about that. If, if you have ADHD, what are we, what are we doing so that we thrive? We're not just feeling like we're stuck in this and maybe we have a diagnosis now, which again can be great to know what you're dealing with. It can give you that level of freedom and okay.

Now I know what I want to do going forward and I think also some of that feeling of normalization, like, there's not something wrong with me.

[00:13:20] Dr Carol Perlman: Yeah, believe it or not. So for several years, I was running a group for adults with ADHD and we would talk about this a lot in the group where I actually think there's a bit of a trauma piece to not being diagnosed to struggling and not knowing why feeling behind your peers and your colleagues.

It can be really damaging to one's self worth. That's what I mean when I talk about it being traumatizing that it's So damaging to one's self worth and self esteem and there's some work we have to do to rebuild from there to realize you're not weak, you're not lazy, you're not dumb, just had this diagnosis that wasn't addressed.

Your brain works a little bit differently and no one ever taught you the skills to work with it rather than work against it so that you can still thrive. So in some ways, I think that step one is just like you said, normalizing the struggle, acknowledging how difficult and how damaging it. it had been to struggle without knowing why and then to move forward.

So I think you absolutely can thrive ADHD. It's sort of a lifelong partner, there's no cure and we're not going to make it go away. But the goal is to learn to live with it, to coexist and work with it and then work around it as needed. Would you believe that there are a lot of gifts that go along with ADHD?

The ADHD brain can be super creative, expansive. It can be really great for problem solving. And so we want to capitalize on that. And if you're in a position where you're choosing a job or a career, those are some great areas where one with ADHD can thrive. But where there are more likely to be challenges are going to be the day to day management of smaller details.

And so some people manage to dodge a lot of that. If you, if you're lucky, lucky enough to have an assistant or you have a creative position, and then you have someone else who's in charge of day to day details, that can be a great partnership. At the end of the day, we all have to manage a certain level of detail in our life.

So we have to learn the skills to compensate for the ways in which our brain struggles a little bit with ADHD. And so, that's my goal in teaching the programs that I do.

[00:15:27] Dawn Calvinisti: So tell us a little bit, because I know when I speak to people with ADHD, some of the things that they'll say to me is, I find it really overwhelming to even start my day and get organized, and I look at what's ahead of me, and I'm not sure, what thing has the most importance and what needs to be done and what doesn't.

doesn't need to be done or could be delayed if I had to, and that they really struggle in those areas. So what are some of the things that you see that are more important to focus on when you're looking to thrive in this?

[00:15:54] Dr Carol Perlman: Yeah, it's the decision making that is so paralyzing. And when you think about it all day long, we're making a thousand decisions about what to do with our time every single hour. What should I be doing now? What's the most important thing? What needs my attention? And making those decisions can be exhausting.

Especially if you're not sure about them. And so they're all made with a struggle. So a lot of my work now talks about habits and the power of creating habits because there's so much easier than having a task that you have to do or having a to do list that you have to tackle. I still incorporate the use of a to do list, but the more you can automate things and make it just part of what you do, the easier it is.

So I'll give you an example, and I'm glad you mentioned mornings because I wanted to talk about that as well. But many years ago, gosh, maybe 10 years ago now I was in a position, working mom, young kids trying to get back on the exercise routine for the life of me. I couldn't figure out how to.

How do other people find time for this? It was a big mystery. Long story short, I ended up enlisting the help of a friend of mine who became a peer coach and we decided it had to happen in the morning. That was the least awful part of the day. And so it had to happen 5:30 in the morning. And so I worked with her and I'm going to explain a little bit more about how.

How and why this can work when we talk about accountability partners. But my point is that she helped me establish this morning pattern or the morning habit of exercising first thing in the morning. Now, almost 10 years later, it's just what I do. So I don't even think about it. Like the whole morning is mapped out and it's, oh, coffee, breakfast, exercise, shower, get ready for the day.

It's just what I do. You could, my family can predict where I am in the house in the morning because they know exactly what I'm going to do. And that's what I'm getting at when I talk about the power of habit. So you're not deciding, I don't know, is the morning the best time to exercise? Is it after work?

Is it before I go to bed? Is it at lunchtime? If you're trying to make that decision every single day, it's just exhausting. You're going to give up and say, well, I'm just not going to exercise. It doesn't work for me. But when it's just part of your habit, part of your routine, you do it and you don't even debate it and it becomes effortless.

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[00:18:04] Dawn Calvinisti: I love that you talk about this. I've talked about this many times. I talk about it with my clients, but I think for all of us, I mean, whether you have a diagnosis or not, the fact of the matter is because there is so much involved in our days right now, and so much asked of our brain throughout the day, the more that you can minimize decision making so that it's just something that happens rather than having to, okay, am I yes or no?

Is it today? Is it tomorrow? It really does relieve our brain. And it's useful for other things too. We talk about, perfectionism, people pleasing, procrastination especially on this podcast and for. All three of those making really good established habits helps to reduce a lot of the issues that come along with them.

[00:18:46] Dr Carol Perlman: Yes, I 100 percent agree. I can go into that a little bit more like other ways in which that plays out, but I wanted to just really highlight what you had said about the morning routine that I think it's so, so important to establish a healthy and enjoyable routine for the morning because it just feels terrible.

We're all going to start our day every day and if you're, if the beginning of your day is a dreaded part of your day where you're, you hate getting out of bed, you're grumbling. You sleep to the last possible minute, then you race around trying to get everything done, kids out the door, get yourself to work.

You finally sit down and you're grumpy. The day hasn't even begun. You're grumpy, you're late, you feel bad because you're late. Everything was chaotic. You're anxious, you're irritable. And that's every day. That's a terrible way to start the day. And the morning, what happens in the morning is going to have a ripple effect on the whole rest of the day.

So instead, I always, always recommend that you create an intentional plan for how you want your morning to go, and I have a whole program on this that we can talk about later, but create an intentional plan so that your morning starts out, you have enough time to get yourself sorted out for the day, you decide what are the essential steps for your successful morning, you make them happy, and Make them happen.

You get to work on time. You sit in your chair. You're nice and relaxed. And you start your day with ease. You've already taken care of your body. You take care of your mind. That's going to lead to a much better, happier, more productive day.

[00:20:14] Dawn Calvinisti: Yeah, a hundred percent. I absolutely agree with you. And I see it in people all the time when they've made that that good established beginning of the day. So I love that you're bringing that up and we, and we will talk more about that. One thing I do want to ask you, cause you mentioned it briefly, but like I'm a list maker.

I love lists, but I also know that like, I'm very Habit oriented. So my lists are broken down in a certain way. Is there a reason or is there a difference between, having a habit or having a list? What works better? Do you work them together? What, what are your opinions on that?

[00:20:46] Dr Carol Perlman: Yeah. So, as, as many steps of your day that you can automate into a habit, I think that's great. So that you don't even have to think about it like, grocery shopping, Oh, it's Sunday morning. We, we make our menu, we go grocery shopping, we meal prep, and we're ready for the week.

It's just what we do. We don't even think about it. That's just how our weekend goes. That's something that's predictable because it happens every week and so you know that it has to get done so you can create that habit. But at the same time, we all have things that come up that are different day to day and week to week.

So we can't get around using lists all together. So I hope that wasn't what I was implying. I was just saying there's many things that you can automate. We want to do that, but then we also need a system for using lists. So I'm a big, big proponent of having a planning system, and I teach this in all my courses.

There are so many out there now. We are so lucky. When we first wrote our ADHD program, the, the newest thing was Palm Pilots. And, we have a few references to that, which is so comical. Now we had to take it out in the second edition because who, who has a Palm Pilot and, now. But all the apps that we have now didn't exist back then.

So you can go in the app store, you can find any number of productivity tools, or honestly, I still think the good old paper and pencil can be fantastic too. Everybody's different. So, you have to play around with them, find what works for you, whether it's paper, pencil, digital, but keep it as simple as possible.

Good old Outlook, whatever comes with your phone, those basic digital calendar and to do lists can be really, really effective. And then. And this is hard, most people haven't learned these systems for productivity and task management. The schools I think are trying to do a little bit more now.

I know my kids got a little bit of it, but you know, most adults at this point were never taught it. So unless you went and learned it or your brain intuitively understood it. Most people don't have these skills. And so it really is important to learn them, take the time, take a course, get a coach, learn them so that you can then put your system in place.

So having a planner so that you can organize your calendar, you know where to look, to find out exactly what's happening each day and then a place where you keep your to do. So when things pop up in your head, you get a request from someone, you know exactly where to write it down. And then you know exactly where to look when you're trying to organize your calendar and your life.

I also, the sec, so my. Top lesson that I like to teach people is the importance of a morning routine. And the second one is the value in creating the habit of setting up your planner for the week. So for me, I like to do this on Sunday morning. You can do it whenever you want, but just sitting down. Taking 10 minutes and making your plan for the week.

Look at everything that's coming up, make sure, it's front and center in your mind. Oh, there's a birthday party. We need to get a gift for that. Oh, there's a family event. I need to bring a dish. I need to go food shopping. Like just seeing it days in advance prevents you from scrambling at the last minute, running around trying to get things because you didn't realize that it was coming up.

And then you can decide, okay, here are the list of things that I need to do for the week. When am I going to do it? I guess I'll say this is the third thing I like to teach is to separate out the decision making from the doing. So in that planning session, whenever you do it, make the decision about when you're going to get all those to do items done.

Then from there, you're done. No more decisions, and then you go into execution mode. And then if you look at your calendar from top to bottom, you just have to execute because you already made the decisions, so you're no longer entertaining those thoughts. Do I want to? Do I feel like it? Is this the right thing to do at this time?

Not entertaining any of that. You're just doing because you already made the plan.

[00:24:25] Dawn Calvinisti: I love this because this even speaks to my people who are listening who are procrastinators. Right? This helps to get rid of all that overwhelm that sits there and puts you into analysis paralysis. So I love that you have this laid out in a way that we can all benefit from it.

[00:24:41] Dr Carol Perlman: Yeah, we all fall victim to that, the analysis paralysis, it's just, it really and truly is exhausting. And it's confusing. So we probably won't have time to go into into it today. But I, there are methods to prioritization and making those decisions. Well, I don't know, my boss asked me to do six things.

How do I know which one is the first one I should do? So there is a method to being able to make those decisions more easily. And again, it's worth learning because we have to do it day in and day out.

[00:25:09] Dawn Calvinisti: Now I know we could talk a long time about ideas, tips, techniques, skills, strategies, all of that to help. But one thing I know that you do talk about and I think it's really, really important is the idea of accountability. So can we maybe end on that part of it? Because I think that is. A vital resource, and it's really overlooked by everybody, not just for 

ADHD, but 

[00:25:33] Dr Carol Perlman: It's a genius concept. I wish I knew about it years ago. And so back to that story that I was telling you about my exercise habit. That is honestly and truly what got me started when I was in the throes of motherhood and, so So struggling to figure out how to find that time for myself, it was my friend who offered to be my coach and said, I'm going to expect a text from you every day.

And I want you to tell me workout done. And so that's how an accountability partner works. So you can simply state your goal to another person, friend, family member, your manager, coworker and say, Oh, I'm going to work on this today. Expect a text from me at the end of the day. Now you know that you have to text that person and you don't want it to say, Oh yeah, about that.

I blew it off and I didn't get it done. Maybe tomorrow. You don't want to do that. So you're going to push yourself to do it so that you can say, I got it done. So that was honestly what taught me how to exercise. As a busy working mom. And here I am 10 years later, on my own, not needing her anymore.

Although I still sometimes do. And so I so this is the second way you can use an accountability partner is you can make a plan with someone to do something together. It can be the same task that you're doing together, or you can just agree. Hey, let's get on a zoom call. You'll do your thing. I'll do my thing, but we'll commit to getting this done.

So I still do this with my sister who lives in another state. Sometimes I know like, Okay. There's certain exercises I love to do. And there's some that I don't love to do all the time, like yoga. So I'll say, let's do a yoga video at 4 30 today. Meet me on zoom and we'll both do it now. I know I can't get out of it because now she's waiting for me and I know I'm going to get it done.

So even though, you might have some. Momentum going, they still can be helpful when you anticipate that there's going to be something that you want to avoid. And then another great trick with accountability partners is there's a website. I didn't even know it was actually someone in my ADHD group who taught me this, and it's called FocusMe.

And it works the same way, like my trusty sister, where you can go onto the website, and you sign up for a block of time when you know you need to get started. And it will pair you with a random person who also has something that they need to get done. And you'll hop on a Zoom, you'll both state what you're doing, then turn your cameras off and you'll work on your thing.

And then you pop on at the end and you acknowledge what you did. And so again, it's, it's like a little trick you're playing on your brain. Someone else now knows that I'm supposed to be doing this. So I can't, screw around on my phone and go on social media for the next hour because now I'm going to have to tell them that.

[00:28:04] Dawn Calvinisti: Oh, this is brilliant. So I will put the link to that website in the show notes, as well as all of the details on how you can learn more about Dr. Carroll. And can I ask you as well, because I know that you're giving us a free guide to creating a morning routine, which I'm super excited about. Can you tell us a little bit about what's in it, what we can expect to achieve out of that?

[00:28:26] Dr Carol Perlman: Yeah, so this is something I put together really as a result of all the work I've done on myself to try to work on my mornings and that I've taught so many other people. The book that I mentioned on ADHD, it originally came out, I think it was 2006, we redid it in 2017. But the world is different now.

It's 2024, the world is different. And I've learned a lot more even since then. I've really been studying habits and how to help people make long term behavioral change with lifestyle behaviors. And so the work that I'm doing now incorporates so much more than we even had in the book because of all the.

Research and learning that I've done. So I decided to put this together in a little freebie that you can access on my website So we'll put that in the show notes healthy healthy for life by carolperlman. com and It's gonna break it all down for you four steps of how you can create a morning routine That's going to help you avoid that grunt grumpy scenario of sliding into your office chair late Irritable feeling behind.

It's going to do the opposite. It's going to help you create a routine that works for you because everybody is different. We don't all need to wake up at the same time. We don't all necessarily have to do the same thing in the morning. So it's going to help you and show you how to tailor it for you.

But how do you create the routine that works for you? That helps you start your day off where you have some time to nourish your brain, your body. Move your body, get it, activated, ready for the day. And then so you're starting your whole day with an intention and that's going to trickle down for your whole day.

So I'll walk you through that. It's broken down into steps and that will be available on my website.

[00:30:06] Dawn Calvinisti: Perfect. Thank you. And that will definitely be in the show notes as well. For my perfectionists out there, I, hear your heart a little bit because you might be thinking, oh, this is awesome. I already have a great morning routine. But you know what, as a mom personally, my kids each have a morning routine and it's something that has helped me to be less of a perfectionist, to be able to help them pick their own routine.

Like my way isn't the only way, right? You know what I'm 

talking about? So yeah, shocking. So each of them have their own morning routine and it looks totally different than mine and they look totally different than each other. And I'm going to tell you one thing, I'll tell you a little secret about my morning routine.

I have 20 minutes where I play a game on my phone because I know when I do that, I don't, I'm not tempted to ever pick up my phone and do it in the rest of the day. And yet it sets me in a good mood to start my morning. So it can be something silly that goes in your routine. It can be things that are really important you need to achieve in your routine.

But setting up your day, like you said, it, it totally changes the direction and the feel of the entire rest of the day. So I love that you're offering that.

[00:31:10] Dr Carol Perlman: And what you construct for your morning, your ideal morning routine will change over time. So let's say like when I first found out about this, it was maybe seven years ago, my routine looked one way, then your kids get into a different phase and they grow up a little bit. And so now your mornings look different.

So now you're capable of a slightly different routine or maybe you're. Exercise needs change or your meditation needs change or your sleep needs change. So it's always evolving. And so we can always benefit from going back to the drawing board, getting some new ideas and coming up with something different because we're different, year to year life is different year to year.

So it's always evolving.

[00:31:47] Dawn Calvinisti: Yeah, I love that. Yeah, we definitely don't say, stay the same and it's good to take a look. Do we need to change it? Maybe we're just doing it because it's habit and we haven't actually looked at, there are differences in my life right now and this isn't serving me to the best of my ability.

[00:32:00] Dr Carol Perlman: Yeah.

[00:32:01] Dawn Calvinisti: Now, I always ask everybody this one question. Which of the three Ps, the people pleasing, the perfectionism, or the procrastination, do you tend to fall back to?

[00:32:13] Dr Carol Perlman: Yeah. I think I would pick procrastination. I think we all we all struggle with it from time to time. We all, actually I'll tell you a really funny story. Maybe we'll end on like kind of a laugh, but I had this box.

So I cleaned out, I had two desks, one upstairs, one downstairs. I cleaned, we moved the room around downstairs. So I no longer had that desk. And I had a giant box with all this stuff in it. And I brought it up to my office and it literally sat there for two years. You look in my background right here, it's really beautiful.

You would never know that there was this box sitting there. And it was the thorn in my side, like I felt terrible that it was there, but I just didn't know what to do with it. And there's, that's the thing. There's always a reason for the procrastination. So part of our work that we didn't talk about today was, getting to the heart of it.

So the heart of it was that I just didn't know what to do with this stuff, but I use my accountability partner and I have a friend who helps me with things like that. And I said, okay, the box, this is, it's time to handle the box. And I did it and I talked myself through it and I say, okay, you're going to take out a little section at a time and triage it, throw it away, do what you need to do with it or find a place to put it.

And I literally had to coach myself through it a little stack at a time. And that box is gone. And I can't even tell you how fantastic it feels. The room is empty and clean and I feel so liberated. And it took me two years to do that.

[00:33:33] Dawn Calvinisti: love that you shared that. I think it is really important to understand, like, we all struggle with some of these things. It's not like we get to the other side and it never ever happens again or, we've totally dealt with it and I'll never be a procrastinator ever again in my life. These are things that are part of life and, and we do have reasons, I like that you said that, that there's, a heart behind that or a root behind it that we're, we're struggling with and it's never just because we don't want to, like, generally there's a reason under, right, why we don't want to.

So I love that you 

shared that. Thanks. 

[00:34:02] Dr Carol Perlman: exactly. Yeah. We are all human. Right.

[00:34:04] Dawn Calvinisti: Yeah, exactly. So again, look in the show notes. There's lots there for you. There's the Focus Me website's going to be on there. The website for Dr. Carol is there for you. And then her freebie, which is the guide to creating a morning routine, is there for you. So jump in and grab those.

Thank you again, Dr. Carol Perlman, for being here, for sharing with us, for opening up maybe our eyes just to the idea that, like, there is a normalization, there is a, an ability for us to be able to say, hey, you know what, my brain just functions a little differently. It doesn't mean that life can't be great, that I can't achieve the things I want to achieve and, and giving us some of those tools and skills that we can start using.

[00:34:43] Dr Carol Perlman: Thank you so much for having me today. It was my pleasure.

[DAWN CALVINISTI]

Thanks for listening to today's show. If you found value in what you heard, please share it with a friend and rate and review us on whatever platform you listen on. It really helps get us out to other women who could benefit from listening. 

Check out our show notes for details from the show and to connect with me or our guests. Want to continue the conversation? My website is www.pursueprogress.com or DM me @pursueprogresswithdawn on Instagram. 

Until next week, pursue progress no matter how imperfectly.


Links from this episode:

CONNECT WITH DAWN:

Private Podcast Deep Dive on ADHD: https://www.pursueprogress.com/deepdive

Website: https://pursueprogress.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/pursueprogresswithdawn

Tiktok: https://www.tiktok.com/pursueprogresswithdawn

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/imperfectioninprogress

Imperfection in Progress Podcast: https://pursueprogress.com/podcast

Grab your 200 Affirmations for the 3 P’s here: https://www.pursueprogress.com/affirmationspodcast

CONNECT WITH DR CAROL:

Website: https://www.carolperlman.com

Website: https://www.healthy4lifebycarolperlman.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/carolperlman

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/carolperlman

Book: https://healthy4lifebycarolperlman.com/my-favorite-products/

Free Gift: Free Guide to Creating a Morning Routine

Link to Free Gift: 

OTHER RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THIS PODCAST:

Umbrella Virtual Solutions: https://www.umbrellavs.com

Book Your Free 30 Minute Strategy Call with the host, Dawn Calvinisti: https://link.theviphub.ca/widget/bookings/dawncalvinisti/strategy

Private Podcast Deep Dive on ADHD: https://www.pursueprogress.com/deepdive

Accountability Partners: https://www.focusme.com

adult adhdmanaging adhdadhdadhd expert
Coming from a background of natural health Dawn has owned multiple businesses as a doula, a childbirth educator, a homeopath and eventually an essential oil based network marketing business.

Dawn spent 7 years building this business to multiple six-figures and reached the top 3% of leaders in just under 3 years.

As a recovering people-pleaser, perfectionist and procrastinator herself, Dawn created online  summits for women who want to move away from these 3 P’s and find more joy and less stress in life.

She has spoken internationally on multiple podcasts and online summits to inspire women to put themselves on their to-do list without apology. To bring her message to even more women, she launched her podcast “Imperfection in Progress” in January 2023 with a membership site to create community and provide accountability.

Dawn Calvinisti

Coming from a background of natural health Dawn has owned multiple businesses as a doula, a childbirth educator, a homeopath and eventually an essential oil based network marketing business. Dawn spent 7 years building this business to multiple six-figures and reached the top 3% of leaders in just under 3 years. As a recovering people-pleaser, perfectionist and procrastinator herself, Dawn created online summits for women who want to move away from these 3 P’s and find more joy and less stress in life. She has spoken internationally on multiple podcasts and online summits to inspire women to put themselves on their to-do list without apology. To bring her message to even more women, she launched her podcast “Imperfection in Progress” in January 2023 with a membership site to create community and provide accountability.

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ADHD in Adults with Dr Carol Perlman

May 08, 202443 min read

“Would you believe that there are a lot of gifts that go along with ADHD? The ADHD brain can be super creative, expansive. It can be really great for problem solving and so we want to capitalize on that.” - Dr Carol Perlman

CLICK HERE FOR FULL EPISODE

ADHD in Adults with Dr Carol Perlman

Welcome to Imperfection in Progress, a podcast for ambitious women who are people-pleasers, perfectionists, or procrastinators. Want to feel less stress and more joy in your life? Then this is for you. I’m your host Dawn Calvinisti.

It’s my privilege to have Dr. Carol Perlman on the podcast. Dr Perlman is a Licensed Psychologist and habit coach specializing in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy with nearly 25 years of experience in the field of psychology. She has worked at top academic medical centers in Boston, Massachusetts and has maintained a consulting practice since 2005. Dr. Perlman has published a dozen articles and presented over 20 papers at national conferences. She is the co-author of a series of Cognitive Behavioral treatment books for adults with ADHD, Mastering Your Adult ADHD – Therapist Guide and Client Workbook. In 2014 she founded a health habit coaching business, Healthy4LifebyCarolPerlman, and teaches others HOW to create daily habits for a healthy lifestyle. Dr. Perlman utilizes her many years of experience as a Cognitive Behavioral Therapist to help clients improve their time management skills and increase productivity to achieve greater work -life balance. She is the host of the Healthy Habits 4 Life podcast.

You can learn more about Dr Perlman by visiting her website www.carolperlman.com

We discuss the importance of recognizing and understanding ADHD symptoms in adults and the challenges faced by individuals with ADHD in managing everyday details and organizing tasks. Dr Perlman shares the effectiveness of habits in reducing decision fatigue and enhancing productivity. She offers so many valuable resources you can take advantage of.

Here’s our conversation.

How to manage adult ADHD

Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Dawn Calvinisti: I'm so glad that you are here to listen today to an episode where we are really diving in a little bit more to ADHD. You know that this month is our focus on ADHD and I love when we can have an expert in who can just open it up a little bit more for us. Today we have Dr. Carol Perlman on the show and you know what, if there's anything that I could say here is it really excites me to get to know more and maybe it's a little selfish listeners, but when I get excited about a topic, then I just say, Hey, you know what? I want to know more. So I'm going to find the people I want to learn from. And so you get to benefit, but I get to benefit too. So thank you for being here, Dr. Pearlman. I so appreciate that you are spending some time with us.

[00:00:43] Dr Carol Perlman: Oh, it's my pleasure. I'm looking forward to this.

[00:00:46] Dawn Calvinisti: Tell us a little bit about why is this the area that you have a level of skill and connection to and what is it about it that draws you to it?

[00:00:54] Dr Carol Perlman: Yeah, good question. So, you, you may have heard some of this story. So many years ago, I can't believe it goes back over 20 years now. I was working in a big academic medical setting and I was invited to work on a project. I was part of what's called the cognitive behavioral therapy program. So for people who may not be familiar with that term, cognitive behavioral therapy is a program, an approach to treatment that's very much skills based. So different from other approaches that had been around, back in the 1950s, 60s, 70s, that were called more psychodynamic and they involved, let's go back and analyze your childhood in order to understand current challenges today. That was very helpful and for some people that continues to be very helpful.

But a new wave of treatment came about called CBT, where we really focus on patterns that are playing out today and teach skills for creating change by learning more about the situation that you're in, the thoughts that you're having, the feelings that you're having, your behavioral responses, and how all of those work together to create a different outcome.

So back in gosh, it was early 2000s, I was working in the CBT program and I was really just almost accidentally invited to work on a project to help adults with ADHD. At the time, there were CBT programs for many other kinds of problems, anxiety and depression, but there really wasn't a lot out there for adults.

There was a great need in the field. And so I was honored to be invited to work on a project where we drew upon what we knew worked in other areas and applied it to adults with ADHD. We did several big research studies to make sure that it worked. We published our treatment program and I've been using it ever since in my private practice with my own clients.

So like I said, it's been a good 25 years. I've sat with hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of individuals with ADHD to teach them skills for navigating day to day life better. And what occurred to me over the years is that it's not just adults with ADHD who are struggling in this area. It is everybody.

And it's only gotten worse. As the years go on, there's so many more distractions. We have so many more digital environments that we're managing. People working from home, this hybrid work model. There's just so much more going on. Everybody, it seems, is struggling more with distractibility, procrastination and thoughts, unhelpful thoughts that get in the way. And the reason why I love this work is because there's so much promise out there that it can be really debilitating when you struggle in these areas. It can be extremely debilitating. It can really damage self esteem and self worth. People feel like they have this secret, like people don't know how much I struggle to get things done.

And maybe at the end of the day, they get it all done. But the journey to get there is really, Really challenging. And I know I can help. And I know that we, we know a lot more about ADHD now, especially in adults, and that there are skills and strategies and systems and so many ways that you can intervene to make things better.

And that's what I love about the work is really helping people make their life better.

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[00:04:03] Dawn Calvinisti: I love that you have figured this out over time. And it's funny, I was talking with my daughter the other day and she's saying, but I think I have ADHD because of this and this and this. And she names some things and I, I laughed and I said, you know what? That's almost normal. Like I struggle with a lot of that too.

And I wouldn't say I have ADHD. But you're right, there's a lot of distractions, there's a lot of things asking for our time and attention at the same time. And I think even if you don't have ADHD, I think a lot of these techniques and tools are really useful for all of us. But the one thing I do want to know is, like, how do we actually determine, like, is this ADHD, or is this just, life?

Okay,

[00:04:44] Dr Carol Perlman: Right. So many people ask that question. They say just like your daughter did, like sort of, half under their breath, like, Oh, I think I have ADHD. And how do you really know? And so there's good news and there's bad news. Bad news is that it's not an easy answer. It's not like we can do a blood test and say, Oh, yes, you're positive for adult ADHD or, ADHD in childhood, it's not that simple.

So the process of getting truly diagnosed is really a complex one that takes many, many hours. We call it a neuropsychological evaluation, where you work with a trained professional and they are going to look at a couple of different. different things. So one is to look at childhood and understand were there any hints of this back then?

And I'm going to really focus on adults. I don't work with kids. I work exclusively with adults. So I'll focus on adults for today. But even for adults, for a true diagnosis, they want to know were there signs of this early on and to To determine that, we interview parents. Sometimes we get reports from teachers.

We might pull out old report cards for those of us who have saved them to see what was going on back then. Were there hints of this? And then we'll use a combination of questionnaires and what we call clinical interviews. So to ask about difficulties that are going on today, to understand, professionally, would we call that a clinically significant indicator of the diagnosis?

So, there is a whole set of criteria that we use, but some of the things that we're looking for are symptoms of inattention or like, not paying attention to details, difficulty sustaining attention over a long period of time, not listening when someone's talking, like getting distracted and going off on another train of thought.

difficulty organizing tasks. You might think more classically of the hyperactivity the tapping of the knee, the squirming in a chair, losing things. So those are just some examples of some of the symptoms that we would ask about to see, do you meet the full criteria? But then there's another key question, and this gets back to what you and your daughter discussed, which is, Is the impairment clinically significant?

So of course, we're all going to have days where we're distracted, where we're procrastinating. We have a task, we don't want to do it. And we might say, Oh, I'm having an ADHD moment. But in order to truly be diagnosed, you really have to have evidence of clinically significant impairment in multiple areas of your life.

So it could be work. It could be home. It could be with friends and family. It could be at school if you're a kid. So we need to establish that to really state that it's, it's above and beyond. What the average person experiences here and here and there. And then there are some computer tests that are used to evaluate attention and inhibition.

And so a clinician will put all of this data together to make a determination of whether the diagnosis really explains the difficulty.

[00:07:33] Dawn Calvinisti: so when I hear about this from other women around me, and I feel like I'm hearing it more and more and more, my mind was, in the beginning, Isn't this a childhood thing? And, like, why would you get diagnosed now? And, like, what does it matter? And what do you do when you get a diagnosis? And, and all that because I just didn't understand.

And then as I heard from some of these women about the things that they recognize now that have been happening throughout their life, but how it's impacted and is still impacting their daily function. Then I understood the reasoning. But as you were doing this, and as you were, talking to hundreds of people that are, are looking at this in adulthood, what are some of the things that you saw?

That they needed help with, like, what are some of the areas maybe of their life where you could see a lot of impact?

[00:08:21] Dr Carol Perlman: Yeah, I want to back up for just one quick moment before we get to that, because there's a really interesting thing to know about adult ADHD that you were, this is where I thought you were going with that question. So when people come to me, and I have to say a lot of the people that I work with were never diagnosed as kids, people in their 40s, 50s, 60s, even 70s, they were not diagnosed as kids because it wasn't well recognized.

Then like it is now. So people fall into one of a couple categories. So they might be someone who was never diagnosed. And they just are getting the diagnosis now and they're just putting the pieces together and saying, Oh my gosh, this explains all the difficulties I had throughout my life. Now it all makes sense.

And it's like starting a new starting life, totally a new now understanding their challenges through a new lens. So that's some people. There are some people who Maybe, they had parents who were very on top of it, or they had a school that was really on top of it, and they got diagnosed. But even with a diagnosis, they really didn't get much treatment.

Maybe they tried some medications, but they never learned skills to compensate for it. And so, And then, so, and the other interesting, so that's the sad and frustrating part, I will say, that I see all the time is that there are people, many people who have struggled for years and years and years and never got the help that we now know is out there.

And what I say to that is there's nothing we can do, we can't go back in time, we can just move forward from here, and we can learn the skills now and work to make your future life better. But the interesting thing that I wanted to point out is that. Like you said, ADHD initially was thought of as a childhood disorder, and so it can play out in a couple different ways.

So there are some kids, let's talk nowadays, who are diagnosed in childhood and then they outgrow it, seemingly. They, they, they, their body and their brain develop and they seem to outgrow it and it doesn't present problems later in life. That's one category. Then there's another category of kids who experience symptoms as As a child, and then the symptoms persist and they continue to struggle and then it turns into adult ADHD, and then there are adults who say, you know what, I really never struggled with this as a kid, it's only been recently since I became a mom, or it's only, once I got to college that I started struggling.

And there's some debate because technically, that wouldn't meet the criteria for a full diagnosis. But actually what what often happens is that there were people in a child's life who were helping to compensate. So thinking about what most parents do, we oversee our kids, we provide structure, we remind them, your homework is due, and so the signs may have been there, but it just wasn't apparent because you had a parent who was helping to manage.

And then, as the child grows up and becomes more and more independent, And the parent steps into the background, now the troubles become more apparent because now the child slash young adult is trying to navigate on their own. And now all of a sudden they're saying, this is the first time I'm having trouble.

[00:11:14] Dawn Calvinisti: Okay, that's interesting that it can play out in that, those three ways. So when somebody is diagnosed, and I want to back into what you had said there, especially like kids, we often hear they're put on medications. And then you mentioned that they may not have been giving, given skill sets. So is this the same for adults?

Are we looking for potentially medications, but we need skill sets? Like, is it the same thing?

[00:11:39] Dr Carol Perlman: I believe this across the board, that if anyone is going to go on psychiatric medications, which can be lifesaving for so many people. I always think that it should go hand in hand with therapy and coaching and skill building that because medications can be great, they can take the edge off, they can dial down the intensity of symptoms.

So if you're at a 10, they can bring them down, maybe to a 3, 4, 5, but chances are they're not going to wipe out the symptoms. completely. And so you're still left with a little residue. And this is where skill building can come in and really take you the whole rest of the way home. So I always believe that if you are pursuing medications, it should go hand in hand with therapy or coaching.

So, yes, there are many people with adult ADHD who benefit from medications again. And I think there's a lot more that we can layer onto that with coaching and skills training, but. There are also people who are not a candidate for medication for various reasons, other medical problems, or, their body just doesn't agree with them.

So medications are off the table, and I don't think that that's, a hopeless situation, because there's still so much we can do with the skill building, and that's the work that I do. I don't prescribe, I have colleagues who prescribe, I don't do any of that. I'm here to do the skill building, so I can talk a lot about, okay, how do we go about that?

[00:12:57] Dawn Calvinisti: Okay, so let's talk a little bit about that. If, if you have ADHD, what are we, what are we doing so that we thrive? We're not just feeling like we're stuck in this and maybe we have a diagnosis now, which again can be great to know what you're dealing with. It can give you that level of freedom and okay.

Now I know what I want to do going forward and I think also some of that feeling of normalization, like, there's not something wrong with me.

[00:13:20] Dr Carol Perlman: Yeah, believe it or not. So for several years, I was running a group for adults with ADHD and we would talk about this a lot in the group where I actually think there's a bit of a trauma piece to not being diagnosed to struggling and not knowing why feeling behind your peers and your colleagues.

It can be really damaging to one's self worth. That's what I mean when I talk about it being traumatizing that it's So damaging to one's self worth and self esteem and there's some work we have to do to rebuild from there to realize you're not weak, you're not lazy, you're not dumb, just had this diagnosis that wasn't addressed.

Your brain works a little bit differently and no one ever taught you the skills to work with it rather than work against it so that you can still thrive. So in some ways, I think that step one is just like you said, normalizing the struggle, acknowledging how difficult and how damaging it. it had been to struggle without knowing why and then to move forward.

So I think you absolutely can thrive ADHD. It's sort of a lifelong partner, there's no cure and we're not going to make it go away. But the goal is to learn to live with it, to coexist and work with it and then work around it as needed. Would you believe that there are a lot of gifts that go along with ADHD?

The ADHD brain can be super creative, expansive. It can be really great for problem solving. And so we want to capitalize on that. And if you're in a position where you're choosing a job or a career, those are some great areas where one with ADHD can thrive. But where there are more likely to be challenges are going to be the day to day management of smaller details.

And so some people manage to dodge a lot of that. If you, if you're lucky, lucky enough to have an assistant or you have a creative position, and then you have someone else who's in charge of day to day details, that can be a great partnership. At the end of the day, we all have to manage a certain level of detail in our life.

So we have to learn the skills to compensate for the ways in which our brain struggles a little bit with ADHD. And so, that's my goal in teaching the programs that I do.

[00:15:27] Dawn Calvinisti: So tell us a little bit, because I know when I speak to people with ADHD, some of the things that they'll say to me is, I find it really overwhelming to even start my day and get organized, and I look at what's ahead of me, and I'm not sure, what thing has the most importance and what needs to be done and what doesn't.

doesn't need to be done or could be delayed if I had to, and that they really struggle in those areas. So what are some of the things that you see that are more important to focus on when you're looking to thrive in this?

[00:15:54] Dr Carol Perlman: Yeah, it's the decision making that is so paralyzing. And when you think about it all day long, we're making a thousand decisions about what to do with our time every single hour. What should I be doing now? What's the most important thing? What needs my attention? And making those decisions can be exhausting.

Especially if you're not sure about them. And so they're all made with a struggle. So a lot of my work now talks about habits and the power of creating habits because there's so much easier than having a task that you have to do or having a to do list that you have to tackle. I still incorporate the use of a to do list, but the more you can automate things and make it just part of what you do, the easier it is.

So I'll give you an example, and I'm glad you mentioned mornings because I wanted to talk about that as well. But many years ago, gosh, maybe 10 years ago now I was in a position, working mom, young kids trying to get back on the exercise routine for the life of me. I couldn't figure out how to.

How do other people find time for this? It was a big mystery. Long story short, I ended up enlisting the help of a friend of mine who became a peer coach and we decided it had to happen in the morning. That was the least awful part of the day. And so it had to happen 5:30 in the morning. And so I worked with her and I'm going to explain a little bit more about how.

How and why this can work when we talk about accountability partners. But my point is that she helped me establish this morning pattern or the morning habit of exercising first thing in the morning. Now, almost 10 years later, it's just what I do. So I don't even think about it. Like the whole morning is mapped out and it's, oh, coffee, breakfast, exercise, shower, get ready for the day.

It's just what I do. You could, my family can predict where I am in the house in the morning because they know exactly what I'm going to do. And that's what I'm getting at when I talk about the power of habit. So you're not deciding, I don't know, is the morning the best time to exercise? Is it after work?

Is it before I go to bed? Is it at lunchtime? If you're trying to make that decision every single day, it's just exhausting. You're going to give up and say, well, I'm just not going to exercise. It doesn't work for me. But when it's just part of your habit, part of your routine, you do it and you don't even debate it and it becomes effortless.

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[00:18:04] Dawn Calvinisti: I love that you talk about this. I've talked about this many times. I talk about it with my clients, but I think for all of us, I mean, whether you have a diagnosis or not, the fact of the matter is because there is so much involved in our days right now, and so much asked of our brain throughout the day, the more that you can minimize decision making so that it's just something that happens rather than having to, okay, am I yes or no?

Is it today? Is it tomorrow? It really does relieve our brain. And it's useful for other things too. We talk about, perfectionism, people pleasing, procrastination especially on this podcast and for. All three of those making really good established habits helps to reduce a lot of the issues that come along with them.

[00:18:46] Dr Carol Perlman: Yes, I 100 percent agree. I can go into that a little bit more like other ways in which that plays out, but I wanted to just really highlight what you had said about the morning routine that I think it's so, so important to establish a healthy and enjoyable routine for the morning because it just feels terrible.

We're all going to start our day every day and if you're, if the beginning of your day is a dreaded part of your day where you're, you hate getting out of bed, you're grumbling. You sleep to the last possible minute, then you race around trying to get everything done, kids out the door, get yourself to work.

You finally sit down and you're grumpy. The day hasn't even begun. You're grumpy, you're late, you feel bad because you're late. Everything was chaotic. You're anxious, you're irritable. And that's every day. That's a terrible way to start the day. And the morning, what happens in the morning is going to have a ripple effect on the whole rest of the day.

So instead, I always, always recommend that you create an intentional plan for how you want your morning to go, and I have a whole program on this that we can talk about later, but create an intentional plan so that your morning starts out, you have enough time to get yourself sorted out for the day, you decide what are the essential steps for your successful morning, you make them happy, and Make them happen.

You get to work on time. You sit in your chair. You're nice and relaxed. And you start your day with ease. You've already taken care of your body. You take care of your mind. That's going to lead to a much better, happier, more productive day.

[00:20:14] Dawn Calvinisti: Yeah, a hundred percent. I absolutely agree with you. And I see it in people all the time when they've made that that good established beginning of the day. So I love that you're bringing that up and we, and we will talk more about that. One thing I do want to ask you, cause you mentioned it briefly, but like I'm a list maker.

I love lists, but I also know that like, I'm very Habit oriented. So my lists are broken down in a certain way. Is there a reason or is there a difference between, having a habit or having a list? What works better? Do you work them together? What, what are your opinions on that?

[00:20:46] Dr Carol Perlman: Yeah. So, as, as many steps of your day that you can automate into a habit, I think that's great. So that you don't even have to think about it like, grocery shopping, Oh, it's Sunday morning. We, we make our menu, we go grocery shopping, we meal prep, and we're ready for the week.

It's just what we do. We don't even think about it. That's just how our weekend goes. That's something that's predictable because it happens every week and so you know that it has to get done so you can create that habit. But at the same time, we all have things that come up that are different day to day and week to week.

So we can't get around using lists all together. So I hope that wasn't what I was implying. I was just saying there's many things that you can automate. We want to do that, but then we also need a system for using lists. So I'm a big, big proponent of having a planning system, and I teach this in all my courses.

There are so many out there now. We are so lucky. When we first wrote our ADHD program, the, the newest thing was Palm Pilots. And, we have a few references to that, which is so comical. Now we had to take it out in the second edition because who, who has a Palm Pilot and, now. But all the apps that we have now didn't exist back then.

So you can go in the app store, you can find any number of productivity tools, or honestly, I still think the good old paper and pencil can be fantastic too. Everybody's different. So, you have to play around with them, find what works for you, whether it's paper, pencil, digital, but keep it as simple as possible.

Good old Outlook, whatever comes with your phone, those basic digital calendar and to do lists can be really, really effective. And then. And this is hard, most people haven't learned these systems for productivity and task management. The schools I think are trying to do a little bit more now.

I know my kids got a little bit of it, but you know, most adults at this point were never taught it. So unless you went and learned it or your brain intuitively understood it. Most people don't have these skills. And so it really is important to learn them, take the time, take a course, get a coach, learn them so that you can then put your system in place.

So having a planner so that you can organize your calendar, you know where to look, to find out exactly what's happening each day and then a place where you keep your to do. So when things pop up in your head, you get a request from someone, you know exactly where to write it down. And then you know exactly where to look when you're trying to organize your calendar and your life.

I also, the sec, so my. Top lesson that I like to teach people is the importance of a morning routine. And the second one is the value in creating the habit of setting up your planner for the week. So for me, I like to do this on Sunday morning. You can do it whenever you want, but just sitting down. Taking 10 minutes and making your plan for the week.

Look at everything that's coming up, make sure, it's front and center in your mind. Oh, there's a birthday party. We need to get a gift for that. Oh, there's a family event. I need to bring a dish. I need to go food shopping. Like just seeing it days in advance prevents you from scrambling at the last minute, running around trying to get things because you didn't realize that it was coming up.

And then you can decide, okay, here are the list of things that I need to do for the week. When am I going to do it? I guess I'll say this is the third thing I like to teach is to separate out the decision making from the doing. So in that planning session, whenever you do it, make the decision about when you're going to get all those to do items done.

Then from there, you're done. No more decisions, and then you go into execution mode. And then if you look at your calendar from top to bottom, you just have to execute because you already made the decisions, so you're no longer entertaining those thoughts. Do I want to? Do I feel like it? Is this the right thing to do at this time?

Not entertaining any of that. You're just doing because you already made the plan.

[00:24:25] Dawn Calvinisti: I love this because this even speaks to my people who are listening who are procrastinators. Right? This helps to get rid of all that overwhelm that sits there and puts you into analysis paralysis. So I love that you have this laid out in a way that we can all benefit from it.

[00:24:41] Dr Carol Perlman: Yeah, we all fall victim to that, the analysis paralysis, it's just, it really and truly is exhausting. And it's confusing. So we probably won't have time to go into into it today. But I, there are methods to prioritization and making those decisions. Well, I don't know, my boss asked me to do six things.

How do I know which one is the first one I should do? So there is a method to being able to make those decisions more easily. And again, it's worth learning because we have to do it day in and day out.

[00:25:09] Dawn Calvinisti: Now I know we could talk a long time about ideas, tips, techniques, skills, strategies, all of that to help. But one thing I know that you do talk about and I think it's really, really important is the idea of accountability. So can we maybe end on that part of it? Because I think that is. A vital resource, and it's really overlooked by everybody, not just for 

ADHD, but 

[00:25:33] Dr Carol Perlman: It's a genius concept. I wish I knew about it years ago. And so back to that story that I was telling you about my exercise habit. That is honestly and truly what got me started when I was in the throes of motherhood and, so So struggling to figure out how to find that time for myself, it was my friend who offered to be my coach and said, I'm going to expect a text from you every day.

And I want you to tell me workout done. And so that's how an accountability partner works. So you can simply state your goal to another person, friend, family member, your manager, coworker and say, Oh, I'm going to work on this today. Expect a text from me at the end of the day. Now you know that you have to text that person and you don't want it to say, Oh yeah, about that.

I blew it off and I didn't get it done. Maybe tomorrow. You don't want to do that. So you're going to push yourself to do it so that you can say, I got it done. So that was honestly what taught me how to exercise. As a busy working mom. And here I am 10 years later, on my own, not needing her anymore.

Although I still sometimes do. And so I so this is the second way you can use an accountability partner is you can make a plan with someone to do something together. It can be the same task that you're doing together, or you can just agree. Hey, let's get on a zoom call. You'll do your thing. I'll do my thing, but we'll commit to getting this done.

So I still do this with my sister who lives in another state. Sometimes I know like, Okay. There's certain exercises I love to do. And there's some that I don't love to do all the time, like yoga. So I'll say, let's do a yoga video at 4 30 today. Meet me on zoom and we'll both do it now. I know I can't get out of it because now she's waiting for me and I know I'm going to get it done.

So even though, you might have some. Momentum going, they still can be helpful when you anticipate that there's going to be something that you want to avoid. And then another great trick with accountability partners is there's a website. I didn't even know it was actually someone in my ADHD group who taught me this, and it's called FocusMe.

And it works the same way, like my trusty sister, where you can go onto the website, and you sign up for a block of time when you know you need to get started. And it will pair you with a random person who also has something that they need to get done. And you'll hop on a Zoom, you'll both state what you're doing, then turn your cameras off and you'll work on your thing.

And then you pop on at the end and you acknowledge what you did. And so again, it's, it's like a little trick you're playing on your brain. Someone else now knows that I'm supposed to be doing this. So I can't, screw around on my phone and go on social media for the next hour because now I'm going to have to tell them that.

[00:28:04] Dawn Calvinisti: Oh, this is brilliant. So I will put the link to that website in the show notes, as well as all of the details on how you can learn more about Dr. Carroll. And can I ask you as well, because I know that you're giving us a free guide to creating a morning routine, which I'm super excited about. Can you tell us a little bit about what's in it, what we can expect to achieve out of that?

[00:28:26] Dr Carol Perlman: Yeah, so this is something I put together really as a result of all the work I've done on myself to try to work on my mornings and that I've taught so many other people. The book that I mentioned on ADHD, it originally came out, I think it was 2006, we redid it in 2017. But the world is different now.

It's 2024, the world is different. And I've learned a lot more even since then. I've really been studying habits and how to help people make long term behavioral change with lifestyle behaviors. And so the work that I'm doing now incorporates so much more than we even had in the book because of all the.

Research and learning that I've done. So I decided to put this together in a little freebie that you can access on my website So we'll put that in the show notes healthy healthy for life by carolperlman. com and It's gonna break it all down for you four steps of how you can create a morning routine That's going to help you avoid that grunt grumpy scenario of sliding into your office chair late Irritable feeling behind.

It's going to do the opposite. It's going to help you create a routine that works for you because everybody is different. We don't all need to wake up at the same time. We don't all necessarily have to do the same thing in the morning. So it's going to help you and show you how to tailor it for you.

But how do you create the routine that works for you? That helps you start your day off where you have some time to nourish your brain, your body. Move your body, get it, activated, ready for the day. And then so you're starting your whole day with an intention and that's going to trickle down for your whole day.

So I'll walk you through that. It's broken down into steps and that will be available on my website.

[00:30:06] Dawn Calvinisti: Perfect. Thank you. And that will definitely be in the show notes as well. For my perfectionists out there, I, hear your heart a little bit because you might be thinking, oh, this is awesome. I already have a great morning routine. But you know what, as a mom personally, my kids each have a morning routine and it's something that has helped me to be less of a perfectionist, to be able to help them pick their own routine.

Like my way isn't the only way, right? You know what I'm 

talking about? So yeah, shocking. So each of them have their own morning routine and it looks totally different than mine and they look totally different than each other. And I'm going to tell you one thing, I'll tell you a little secret about my morning routine.

I have 20 minutes where I play a game on my phone because I know when I do that, I don't, I'm not tempted to ever pick up my phone and do it in the rest of the day. And yet it sets me in a good mood to start my morning. So it can be something silly that goes in your routine. It can be things that are really important you need to achieve in your routine.

But setting up your day, like you said, it, it totally changes the direction and the feel of the entire rest of the day. So I love that you're offering that.

[00:31:10] Dr Carol Perlman: And what you construct for your morning, your ideal morning routine will change over time. So let's say like when I first found out about this, it was maybe seven years ago, my routine looked one way, then your kids get into a different phase and they grow up a little bit. And so now your mornings look different.

So now you're capable of a slightly different routine or maybe you're. Exercise needs change or your meditation needs change or your sleep needs change. So it's always evolving. And so we can always benefit from going back to the drawing board, getting some new ideas and coming up with something different because we're different, year to year life is different year to year.

So it's always evolving.

[00:31:47] Dawn Calvinisti: Yeah, I love that. Yeah, we definitely don't say, stay the same and it's good to take a look. Do we need to change it? Maybe we're just doing it because it's habit and we haven't actually looked at, there are differences in my life right now and this isn't serving me to the best of my ability.

[00:32:00] Dr Carol Perlman: Yeah.

[00:32:01] Dawn Calvinisti: Now, I always ask everybody this one question. Which of the three Ps, the people pleasing, the perfectionism, or the procrastination, do you tend to fall back to?

[00:32:13] Dr Carol Perlman: Yeah. I think I would pick procrastination. I think we all we all struggle with it from time to time. We all, actually I'll tell you a really funny story. Maybe we'll end on like kind of a laugh, but I had this box.

So I cleaned out, I had two desks, one upstairs, one downstairs. I cleaned, we moved the room around downstairs. So I no longer had that desk. And I had a giant box with all this stuff in it. And I brought it up to my office and it literally sat there for two years. You look in my background right here, it's really beautiful.

You would never know that there was this box sitting there. And it was the thorn in my side, like I felt terrible that it was there, but I just didn't know what to do with it. And there's, that's the thing. There's always a reason for the procrastination. So part of our work that we didn't talk about today was, getting to the heart of it.

So the heart of it was that I just didn't know what to do with this stuff, but I use my accountability partner and I have a friend who helps me with things like that. And I said, okay, the box, this is, it's time to handle the box. And I did it and I talked myself through it and I say, okay, you're going to take out a little section at a time and triage it, throw it away, do what you need to do with it or find a place to put it.

And I literally had to coach myself through it a little stack at a time. And that box is gone. And I can't even tell you how fantastic it feels. The room is empty and clean and I feel so liberated. And it took me two years to do that.

[00:33:33] Dawn Calvinisti: love that you shared that. I think it is really important to understand, like, we all struggle with some of these things. It's not like we get to the other side and it never ever happens again or, we've totally dealt with it and I'll never be a procrastinator ever again in my life. These are things that are part of life and, and we do have reasons, I like that you said that, that there's, a heart behind that or a root behind it that we're, we're struggling with and it's never just because we don't want to, like, generally there's a reason under, right, why we don't want to.

So I love that you 

shared that. Thanks. 

[00:34:02] Dr Carol Perlman: exactly. Yeah. We are all human. Right.

[00:34:04] Dawn Calvinisti: Yeah, exactly. So again, look in the show notes. There's lots there for you. There's the Focus Me website's going to be on there. The website for Dr. Carol is there for you. And then her freebie, which is the guide to creating a morning routine, is there for you. So jump in and grab those.

Thank you again, Dr. Carol Perlman, for being here, for sharing with us, for opening up maybe our eyes just to the idea that, like, there is a normalization, there is a, an ability for us to be able to say, hey, you know what, my brain just functions a little differently. It doesn't mean that life can't be great, that I can't achieve the things I want to achieve and, and giving us some of those tools and skills that we can start using.

[00:34:43] Dr Carol Perlman: Thank you so much for having me today. It was my pleasure.

[DAWN CALVINISTI]

Thanks for listening to today's show. If you found value in what you heard, please share it with a friend and rate and review us on whatever platform you listen on. It really helps get us out to other women who could benefit from listening. 

Check out our show notes for details from the show and to connect with me or our guests. Want to continue the conversation? My website is www.pursueprogress.com or DM me @pursueprogresswithdawn on Instagram. 

Until next week, pursue progress no matter how imperfectly.


Links from this episode:

CONNECT WITH DAWN:

Private Podcast Deep Dive on ADHD: https://www.pursueprogress.com/deepdive

Website: https://pursueprogress.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/pursueprogresswithdawn

Tiktok: https://www.tiktok.com/pursueprogresswithdawn

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/imperfectioninprogress

Imperfection in Progress Podcast: https://pursueprogress.com/podcast

Grab your 200 Affirmations for the 3 P’s here: https://www.pursueprogress.com/affirmationspodcast

CONNECT WITH DR CAROL:

Website: https://www.carolperlman.com

Website: https://www.healthy4lifebycarolperlman.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/carolperlman

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/carolperlman

Book: https://healthy4lifebycarolperlman.com/my-favorite-products/

Free Gift: Free Guide to Creating a Morning Routine

Link to Free Gift: 

OTHER RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THIS PODCAST:

Umbrella Virtual Solutions: https://www.umbrellavs.com

Book Your Free 30 Minute Strategy Call with the host, Dawn Calvinisti: https://link.theviphub.ca/widget/bookings/dawncalvinisti/strategy

Private Podcast Deep Dive on ADHD: https://www.pursueprogress.com/deepdive

Accountability Partners: https://www.focusme.com

adult adhdmanaging adhdadhdadhd expert
Coming from a background of natural health Dawn has owned multiple businesses as a doula, a childbirth educator, a homeopath and eventually an essential oil based network marketing business.

Dawn spent 7 years building this business to multiple six-figures and reached the top 3% of leaders in just under 3 years.

As a recovering people-pleaser, perfectionist and procrastinator herself, Dawn created online  summits for women who want to move away from these 3 P’s and find more joy and less stress in life.

She has spoken internationally on multiple podcasts and online summits to inspire women to put themselves on their to-do list without apology. To bring her message to even more women, she launched her podcast “Imperfection in Progress” in January 2023 with a membership site to create community and provide accountability.

Dawn Calvinisti

Coming from a background of natural health Dawn has owned multiple businesses as a doula, a childbirth educator, a homeopath and eventually an essential oil based network marketing business. Dawn spent 7 years building this business to multiple six-figures and reached the top 3% of leaders in just under 3 years. As a recovering people-pleaser, perfectionist and procrastinator herself, Dawn created online summits for women who want to move away from these 3 P’s and find more joy and less stress in life. She has spoken internationally on multiple podcasts and online summits to inspire women to put themselves on their to-do list without apology. To bring her message to even more women, she launched her podcast “Imperfection in Progress” in January 2023 with a membership site to create community and provide accountability.

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